Patra's Other Place

I started out with Patra's Place, primarily dedicated to my linen collection and stitching projects. But I kept getting side-tracked, so I decided to create Patra's Other Place for anything not related to embroidery topics. So you now have a choice. If you are interested in me, read this. If you only want to see my linen and stitching, visit Patra's (original) Place! (Please note that by clicking on any of the photos, they will be enlarged to fill your computer screen.)

My Photo
Location: Melbourne, Vic., Australia

I am married to Ken. We have no children except two cats and a collection of finches, canaries and Rhode Island bantam hens.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Major addition to our back yard.

We have been talking for a few years about having a separate pen for our chooks, and we've had many quotes, both verbal and written, most of them about $1000.  But we ended up choosing a local man who specialises in building custom chooks houses and pens to suit individual backyards.  We found him online and after looking at the gallery on his website and seeing what he has done, we decided that he would be the best one to do the job, even if he is $3000 more expensive than anyone else!

Here is the top end of our back yard.  By top end, I mean the very back of it, which is the highest point on our sloping block of land. These were taken two days ago before Greg started work on the chook house.
The photo below looking up at the existing aviaries was taken standing behind the house which is on a much lower level as you can see.

Nothing, absolutely NOTHING grows in this dust bowl.  The slim tree trunk in the middle of the picture is a loquat tree that should have grown twice this size in the 40 years that it has been here, but the poor soil has kept it from growing faster.  There are a couple of native grass shrubs further along, which survive just about anywhere.

Looking at the same patch from the other end, toward the aviaries.

Greg and Craig started work on Wednesday, preparing the posts and groundwork for the pen.  They constructed the frames at their workshop and brought them here on the back of his truck.

Today, they finished erecting the frames, and added the wire over the top of the complete pen.
 The section in the middle will be the chook house, with a metal roof, and wood panels on all sides except the east which will have wire panels to let in morning daylight.  The door will be at the back (north side), and the nest box will be facing the yard, so we can take the eggs without having to go inside the pen.

Ralph and his girls inspecting the ground work. "Is this all going to be OUR place? - Wow!"

Ken checking the enclosure out with the chooks having lost interest and gone to grassier pastures!

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Nostalgic trip for Ken.

Ken has never forgotten being taken on picnics with his family as an 8 year old boy, with his little sister.  They often went to New Gisborne which is about an hour's drive from Melbourne these days, but 60 years ago it would have taken a lot longer, with no free ways and many unmade roads.  The picnic ground they used to go to is still there, and today we drove up there, as Ken wanted to try and find an old house he remembered playing in as a child.
It was a perfect day for a drive into the country.  We stopped at the Gisborne township for lunch - chips for him and French toast for me.
Further along the street I found a shoe shop that was selling the same shoes that I recently bought in Eltham, but for $10 cheaper!  So I bought another two pairs - they are so comfortable, and as I was already wearing red clothes, I left the red shoes on all day, and I could have kept them on indefinitely!

 After that nice little interlude, we drove out of Gisborne and found the park that Ken's family used to visit all those years ago.

Here is Ken walking along the road, immersed in his memories. He learned to ride a bicycle here, and saw his very first platypus in the creek.
We drove for miles along these roads, seeing no other cars and very few houses.  It was so quiet and peaceful.  Every so often we would stop and I'd take a couple of photos, like these, which don't do the views justice.

 I leaned on this gate to have my photo taken, and Ken was going to pose for me, leaning against the fence adjoining it, but....
He only got a small zap, but I got a bigger fright, wondering if his ICD (defibrillator) would react!  He seems okay, but it will be interesting to see if anything shows up next time he goes to the Austin hospital for his regular check up!
He couldn't find the house he was looking for, so we went back to Gisborne and checked out their library.  We were introduced to the ladies of the local historical society, who were very interested to hear about Ken's childhood experiences.  They sent us around the corner to the local newspaper office where there were three more people who knew even more about the local history, and they knew the house that Ken was talking about.  It was actually the first house built in that area, in 1864, and several generations of the original family lived there, but as the older family members died and the younger ones moved away, the house was left to rot, and was eventually demolished and the land sold.   When Ken first saw it, it was empty, but still in good condition, but on subsequent visits, he remembers seeing it vandalised and falling down, and that was why he was keen to find out the story behind it.

Gisborne is just one of many little country towns around Victoria that has a lot of history attached to it.  I know what Australians call history is laughable compared to England, Europe and Asian countries, but it's our history and we are proud of it!
This court house was built in 1856 and is well preserved, as is the little bluestone jail behind it.

We are planning to make the most of Melbourne's glorious spring days and go on more of these day trips.  One of the best things about being retired!

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Healesville Sanctuary.

Ken and I spent today at Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary.   We went there today for two reasons, the main one being it was the annual Avicultural Society picnic, and we get a few privileges such as seeing 'behind the scenes' with endangered species, how they prepare food for all the creatures at the Sanctuary, etc.

 The weather turned out glorious, and we were lucky to see a lot of birds that are usually elusive.  The Orange Bellied Parrot and the Helmeted Honey Eater would both be close to extinction without the breeding programs set up by the Sanctuary, and we saw both birds today, which was a real buzz.  Those little birds probably wonder what the fuss is about, they just fly about and enjoy life in their protected habitat…

The koalas are always popular even when they are asleep with their back to the tourists.  But the joey in the second photo was a bonus; he'd only been out of his mother's pouch for a few days, and is so cute!  Until today, I've never seen a baby koala at this age.

This is the Helmeted Honey Eater, the bird emblem of Victoria.  There are only about 60 of these left in the wild.  

The Orange Bellied Parrot is smaller than what I expected, considering that it's annual migration is across Bass Strait to Tasmania.  It is estimated there are about 70 birds that migrate now.

 This is one of the food preparation rooms.  So much variety of fruit, vegetables, seeds, fish and maggots.

The Raptor arena - full of spectators waiting for the daily display.

The eagle landed on the arm of the handler, who was standing right behind us.  I was lucky to get this photo, as birds in flight are amazingly fast, and the eagle settled there for just a few seconds before taking off again.

Male lyrebird disappearing into his bushy aviary.

Red tailed black cockatoo on the arm of a volunteer.  This one had been born and raised at the Sanctuary, so is used to humans.

Young King Parrot perched on Ken's hand, eating the seed in his hand.
 We also visited the Reptile enclosure.  Lots of snakes and lizards..

Brolga in the creek.

I got a lot of photos which look perfect on the camera, but they have turned out pixilated on the computer, it is really annoying.  I don’t know how to fix it, but I know it can be done because I googled it, and saw instructions (which are gobbledy gook to me).  

Work done in our back yard.

We have two sets of steps from the back door to the upper level of our back yard, where the bird aviaries are.  Up till now the steps have been gravel topped, which was slippery at the best of times, so we decided to have them paved, as well as having a paved path in front of the aviaries, as that used to get very muddy in wet weather.
The guy that we hired to do the job ordered way too many paving stones, but he used the extra to replace the old pavers under the clothesline, which were unstable after years of ants nests underneath them.  It has made a big difference, so although I was annoyed at the extra expense incurred at the time, I had to admit it was worthwhile doing.
This photo was taken before the paved path:

And this one is after.  There is still some sand on the surface and it will look better once I've swept the path.

This is one side of the yard now paved.  (The photos are pixilated, sorry)
 And this is the other.

The other thing we've added to the house is this little verandah over the back door step.  Ken has been wanting this for years, although it never worried me, as this is the east side of the house and doesn't get as much rain hammering it as the west side.  But Ken found someone to do it, so he now has his back "porch"..

Saturday, October 04, 2014


Well, it surprised me to get a few emails and queries from people who have read this blog, asking why they couldn't find it any more (I had changed the settings to private blog with no access).  So I have changed it again, but only allowing access to readers who have a account.   And I have to warn you that I still won't be posting as much as I used to.  I'd like to, but it takes up so much time, adding photos to a blog, writing descriptions, writing lengthy posts about life in general and so on, I just want to spend more time on sewing and other craft stuff; reading more books, and getting to bed at a reasonable time instead of after 3am!  So, I'll be back here with some photos of our newly paved back yard, and places we've been recently that might interest some of you.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Going into retirement.

Since Ken retired, I am finding less time to mess around here on the computer.  I've also become part of another online forum which takes up an hour or more online most days, so I have decided to put all but two of my blogs into their own retirement.  The blogs which will remain active are Patra's Place of Stitching, and the PNG Quilt Collective.  I won't actually close the other blogs down, as I believe that will do that automatically anyway, if there is no activity on them for a certain amount of time.
To whoever is reading this, thank you for your interest in the past. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

A week later.

So much for my comment last week about Ken's health being stable.  He caught a cold which left him coughing and requiring the usual antibiotics, then I caught it, so that was the week effectively wiped off for us both.  It was so cold outside we were happy to stay in bed or at least inside with the heating on all day.  Pity the solar panels don't supply energy for gas as well as electricity, although we did have the reverse cycle air conditioner on a lot to help warm up the house, so that would have been taken care of by solar energy.

I missed out on a couple of outings with friends, but made up for it by indulging myself in an orgy of reading.  I've started utilising our online library service a lot recently.  When I read reviews of new (or not so new) books that I think I'd like to read, I add their titles to a 'wish list' in my name on the library website.  When I've read a few, I put a few more on hold, and when I've read and returned them, I go back to my list, and so on.  I really appreciate being able to reserve books and have the library email me when the books are there for me to pick up.  Saves trawling through the shelves looking for authors and titles!  I've just discovered another facet of the site; you can add all the books you've read to another list, which is great to refer to if like me, you forget after a while if you've read a certain book, or you want to see what books you've read by a certain author.  I used to write all the fictional books I read in a notebook but now and then I'd forget to do it, and so it was a pretty useless exercise in the end.

Aldi Stores had an Android tablet in their specials this week, for $149, and as Ken has looked over my shoulder enviously when I've been playing around with my Samsung tablet, he had to get one of his own, didn't he.  Ah well, we can afford these little luxuries now, so why not. 

We had an old friend come in and clean up our front and back yard for us this week.  He used to have a tree service business many years ago, but gave it up for something less strenuous.  I noticed an advert in the local paper a few months ago and realised it was the same guy back in the tree business again, so I  called him up to come over and give us a quote.  He and his brother worked all day Monday (his wife also came along and did all the raking and sweeping after trees were pruned), and they worked like trojans.  Several trees and dead shrubs were taken down, more trees pruned of dead branches, and old tree stumps were removed.  Well, actually they were pulverised by a stump removal machine, which left lots of lovely sawdust to spread on the garden.  There was one stump near the aviaries that Ken wanted removed, but after watching them get rid of the other stumps, with all the noise and sawdust flying around, I said no, the birds are traumatised enough already without you doing that right in front of the aviaries, so the guys ended up digging the stump out, much more quietly!  The next day I found the chooks had laid four eggs, so we decided that instead of scaring the shit out of them we'd scared the eggs out of them...ha ha.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Five weeks later.

Somebody commented to me the other day that I haven't posted anything to this blog lately.  So I looked, and they were right.  To tell the truth, I had forgotten all about it.  I've posted a few bits and pieces on my stitching blog, but just don't seem to have the same enthusiasm lately.  So for the benefit of whoever might still be keeping an eye on me,  this is a brief rundown of the past month.

I'm still wallowing in the delight of our lovely kitchen.  We now have four new chairs to replace the 50's retro chrome and plastic ones, and we are waiting for a holland blind to be installed.  This replaces the 40 year old curtains that were on the floor to ceiling window.  God I'm glad they are gone....I got to hate them in the last few years!  The windows in the lounge and dining room have the same curtains, and I am looking forward to getting rid of them too, in due course.

The solar panels are connected and generating electricity, and Energy Australia tells us that our next electricity reading should be a quarter of what it has been.  We are getting a tree lopper to come and chop off some branches from some of the larger trees on the west side of the house that overlook the solar panels, and that will increase the amount of sunlight they get.

Ken's finches and canaries are mostly surviving the cold winter, although they've lost many of their babies, but that is to be expected from these birds which are native to a tropical climate in northern Australia.  We're surprised that even the adult birds have survived so well.  The chooks are all feathered up after their long moult in autumn, and are laying enough eggs for our use.  The cats are the cats.  What else does one say about them?

Ken's health is fairly stable.  I am so thankful that he retired in time to avoid being exposed to such  a cold winter, as I think he would have had a lot of time off work otherwise.  He keeps himself occupied with his new car, the bikes (rides on fine days with his mates), looking after the birds, and doing small maintenance stuff around the house.  We have a gardener come every couple of months to mow the lawns, whippersnip edges, and prune shrubs etc. because Ken doesn't have the strength for that now.

Apart from when we go out somewhere together, I spend my time reading, sewing, chatting to friends (mostly on the phone in this weather - it's been too cold to go out for morning/afternoon teas!), and the usual cooking and housework.  

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